I am a Christian with a temper.
Yes, it’s possible to love Jesus and still have anger issues. I’d like to share my journey with anger for other hot-headed Christians hiding out there. With God’s help, I’m learning to apply His anger management plan, make better choices, and live in peace. I’m here to tell you that you can, too.
From Mouse to Monster
I wasn’t always an angry person. In fact, I was a mouse. I was pushed around by my younger siblings at home and spent way too many lunch hours hiding in the girl’s restroom at school. Fighting was naughty and I was a good girl, so I silently fled instead.
Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I started fighting back. Standing up for myself quickly became so intoxicating that I relished opportunities to intimidate people. I was proud of my newfound “strength”. A few years and lots of hardships later, I was calloused. I had become walking anger.
I didn’t realize how difficult and miserable I’d become until my world was shaken in ways I thought only happened to other people who didn’t know better. That’s when the monster got out. I was consumed with a rage that frightened me, and I had no idea what to do with it. I was shocked that a good Christian girl like me could harbor such raw, unbridled fury.
Thankfully, I knew where to go. Or rather to Whom.
Learning God’s Anger Management Plan
Prayer and desperation led me to the book Overcoming Emotions that Destroy by Chip Ingram and Dr. Becca Johnson. Through prayer, I have been learning to apply the concepts from this book, and it’s changing not only my life, but the entire day-to-day relationships and dynamics in my home.
I learned that the crux of God’s anger management plan revolves around three verses that tell us to really listen before we speak and stay calm (James 1:19-20), replace anger with kindness (Ephesians 4:31-32), and that vengeance is God’s job, not yours (Romans 12:19).God's 3-step anger management plan: 1. Listen before you speak and to stay calm; 2. Replace anger with kindness; 3. Vengeance is God's job, not yours. Click To Tweet
I’ve heard these verses and others like it many times, but living out God’s instructions was out of reach for me.
Learning to Carry Our Cross
As I prayed and continued reading the book, I came across another familiar, yet elusive verse that echoed in my thoughts for weeks.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…’” (Matthew 16:24).
I’ve always been afraid of this verse because I thought it meant that the only way to follow Jesus was to be martyred, but obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to study Matthew 16:24 led to my breakthrough. I learned that Jesus was not telling us to take up His cross; only He could do that. As Jesus’ followers, we are instructed to take up our cross.
But what is our cross?
The Bible repeatedly tells us to deny our selfish passions, and put our sinful nature to death, so we may instead live as Christ instructs us. Our cross is to crucify our selfishness and live by God’s Word.
As I resumed reading Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, I learned that feeling angry is not a sin, but living in anger is. It’s human nature to focus on how we were wronged, disappointed, or hurt, but God wants us to focus on Him. We have to crucify the natural inclination to linger in anger to instead follow Jesus’ instructions.
Leaning on Jesus Every Minute of Every Day
I’m learning to deal with anger God’s way, not dwell on it as the enemy would like. Understanding Matthew 16:24 has empowered me to practice God’s anger management plan. I’m learning to stay calm and quiet, so I can hear what my loved ones’ words loud enough to see what is in their heart. I’m also learning to let God settle the score His way.
Please know that this is no fairy tale happily ever after. Carrying my cross to follow Jesus does not come naturally. Whatever we focus on becomes larger, so I deliberately and intentionally lock my thoughts on God’s Word. And I can’t benefit from God’s Word by my own will. There are many days when the power of God’s Word comes only by admitting that the only way to crucify my selfish bent is to ask for God’s help with the current situation.
Every day is a cycle of wins and losses, but I take encouragement in a concept I learned from the practice of mindfulness: The second you realize that you are not in the moment is the same moment that you are. I’ve applied this concept to my walk with God to remind myself that the moment I realize my thoughts have strayed is the same moment that I can choose to run back to Him. I can only regain control after acknowledging that I’m losing it.Valerie learned that the first step towards victory is to admit defeat. Click To Tweet
Whether you struggle with anger, anxiety, depression, temptation, or any other bondage, I believe you should congratulate yourself every time you realize that you’ve strayed again, because at that moment you are empowered to make better choices. The realization that you are slipping is not an acknowledgment of failure; it’s another chance for victory.
Join the Conversation!
Let’s learn from each other. Tell us how God has helped you deal with anger or another struggle in the comments below.
*Originally posted October 4th, 2018
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